Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Movie Review
The movie event of the year finally hits theaters with a record amount of screens and intense buzz. But is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, based on J.K. Rowling's best selling novel, made of the magic everyone is hoping it is?
Director Chris Columbus knew he had a lot riding with this movie. No, his career wouldn't be ruined should he make a disaster, but there would be tens of millions of fans around the world waiting to strangle him. So, this movie (more commonly known as The Philosopher's Stone) needs to be good, and needs to avoid the ever-so-common phrase, "It's nowhere as good as the book." Obviously, movies can never match the excellence of a good book, because books can go so much more in depth with just a few sentences. In movies, things have to be visual, and visual leaves out details, and adds running time.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is a well done film. The directing is marvelous, the acting is good, and the script is right up there with the novel. Though a children's movie in essence, in that it has a child cast, the mood is dark and brooding, creepy, and sometimes scary. There are a lot of funny parts, some made for younger audiences, some for older, but at the same time, Columbus doesn't mind scaring the audience, even though there are 5-year old children watching. Harry Potter is not made like a children's movie, and really, that is just like the books, because they can transcend the age restriction that almost all things have.
Amazingly, people will have trouble complaining about things left out of the film. Columbus really has done a good job of transferring almost the entire book to the big screen, although I was sort of annoyed that the second sport game was left out. Then again, I wasn't. Because Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is way too long. Where most movie translations of books leave too many scenes out, Harry Potter leaves too many in; it is as if Columbus was so scared of pissing off the fans that he decided not to even mess with the story in the slightest. In reality, there are a bunch of scenes that could have been dropped, shortened, or combined; this movie really needed to lose a half an hour. With previews and commercials, the movie is two hours and forty-five minutes long, and on opening weekend, you need to get to the theater an hour ahead of time (not to mention buy the tickets even sooner). Today, I devoted six hours of my time to this movie, and that pushed me just a little beyond my limits. Harry Potter is a good movie but I was getting antsy halfway through, well aware that there was still a long ways to go. Other adults were squirming in their seats as well, and the little children were definitely having problems.
Duration aside, Harry Potter's other flaws lie in the graphics. Where most of the scenery graphics are stupendous, some of the character-related graphics, namely when the characters are flying around on brooms, are a little weak. They're not bad, but they definitely look more like kid's movie quality than adult movie quality. That might deter a few people.
Also, the ending is pretty scary for little children. I was sort of surprised by how "mature" the ending is, if I can use that word. It really reminded me of The Mummy in a way.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone has all the stuff it needs to make a great movie; it just has too much of it. Cut a half an hour off and many more people would be clapping at the end.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.